By the banks of the beautiful Weser, the Hanseatic city of Bremen is another hidden gem of Germany.
Expect world-class museums, picture postcard neighbourhoods, great variety of local and international cuisine , cool nightlife scene plus a great number of stories and legends….
11am Check in: Jugendherberge Bremen
This is my sunny 2 bed ensuite dorm room at the Bremen Jugendherberge.
I could see the Beck’s beer factory from my room and watch the boats sail by on the Weser river plus….nice sunshine through my window. Perfect eh?
Price of bed in a 6 bed-dorm on a bed and breakfast basis starts from just €25.60 or the €60 mark for a double ensuite bedroom.
12pm Time for a‘Rollo’
For lunch I headed back to the Hauptbhanhof area checking out the hive of budget eateries in this place and eventually settled for the Kismet ‘New Generation’ Turkish restaurant (Sogestrasse 72)
I wasn’t sure what to order and asked for a recommendation. They suggested I try the local Durum Doner that was invented in Bremen! It’s called the ‘Rollo’ , like Durum. but with cheese!…. It tasted fantastic.
Cost: Just 3 euros.
1pm Walk around Bremen’s Aldstadt
Bremen is ‘schon klein’ – a compact place which I could cover by foot. Which was handy because it was March and freezing outside despite the nice winter sunshine.
I headed back to the hostel to pick up a few things and then walked down the beautiful Weserpromenade and the Schlachte.
The Schlachte was Bremen’s harbor for over 600 years. The whole promenade back in the day used be the base for all the harbor-related trades and also a few inns and cellar taverns. However natural silting processes rendered Bremen increasingly accessible thereby making the Schlachte increasingly defunct.
Nowadays the Schlachte is the place where locals come for long walks up the promenade, ride their bike or go for a drink and soak in the sun.
Top tip: If you’re looking for a nice few bars to go drinking late in the evening, I would recommend Bolero and Café Bar Celona for drinks and the Australian bar, Kangaroo Island for late night lounging.
1:30pm Market Square, Bremen
I wind my way to the market square of Bremen, the focal point of the city with a bunch of interesting things to see and do.
I bumped into some familiar faces.
‘We can find something better than death anywhere.’
Remember these 4 musicians?
A donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster who came to find freedom in Bremen but instead…
Hole of Bremen
For more animal-friendly fun, take a few footsteps away in the centre of the market square where you will find the “Hole of Bremen.”
Now don’t get the wrong idea.
It’s a special hole in the square where if you drop a couple of coins into the slot , you can hear one of the four musicians make a noise in appreciation for your coin.
In the middle of the square, I also spot the local statue of liberty, the statue of Roland.
The Roland statue found in most German cities, is a symbol of market rights and freedom. This statue is the biggest in Germany and probably the most beautiful and has been under UNESCO protected status from 2004.
I pop into the Church of our Lady, Bremen’s oldest church which is situated right next to the town hall and built in the 11the century.
It holds some nice concerts here and when I was visited, I managed to catch the organ player in action.
Here is a brief audio clip for you to get an idea…
2:30pm The infamous Spuckstein!
I also managed to find the infamous “Spuckstein” or spitting stone a few steps away from the town hall. The black stone marks the location of the beheading of Gesche Gottfried. Between 1813 and 1828, she murdered 15 people with poisonous gas and arsenic. Nobody knows why, but she was captured and executed at this location on April 21, 1831. She was the last person to be publicly executed in the city of Bremen. People still come by the stone and spit on it to show their disgust for her actions.
Remember Café Hag decaffeinated coffee advert ?
Hell, that was (still is!) an annoying advert.
Things you remember from your childhood…
Well the reason I remembered the advert was when I found myself on Bottcherstrasse in Bremen.
This beautiful street is just off the main square and everywhere I look am drowning in a mélange of awe-inspiring expressionist buildings with varying architectural styles .
The 110 metre lane with a golden relief at the entrance (showing a scene from the Apocalypse with the Archangel Michael fighting a dragon) was conceived by Ludwig Roselius , a Bremen-based coffee-trader who invented decaffeinated coffee and founded …yep you’ve guessed it by now, the Hag coffee company.
Roselius entrusted local artist Bernard Hoetger with the artistic supervision over the project. Today the street is home to arts and crafts shops, a cinema, restuarants and also the museum of Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum ( Entry: €5, Reduced entry €3) one of the early Expressionists. The museum features key works from each of her creative periods.
Top tip Whilst you are in Bottcherstrasse if you have a sweet tooth, pop into the Bremer Bonbon shop where you can admire the candy artisans show visitors how the sweet stuff is made and enjoy some free samples.
4pm The Schnoor
The Schnoor is the oldest quarter of Bremen dating back to the 15th century. The word ‘Schnoor’ means ‘string’ and refers to tradesmen, crafts and fisherman who lived here made string and rope. Today, the area is cornucopia of all things from craft shops, curios to restaurants and cafes. Perfect for a relaxed, lazy afternoon stroll.
The doors here are amazing –here’s my collection of Schnoor #doorporn
5:30pm Bremer Knipp at the Schüttinger Gasthausbrauerei
To have a very authentic experience of Bremer beer and cuisine avoid the touristy Ratskeller and visit Schüttinger Gasthausbrauerei
You can sample their excellent beer and also the very unhealthy and very tasty Bremer Knipp.
Knipp is a local sausage made of unwanted bits of pork & oat groats plus seasoned with salt, pepper and all spice. To top that off it’s served also with fried potatoes, bacon plus gherkins!
Talk about a heart attack on a plate! So tasty though…
Cost: With 0.2 l glass of beer came to 9 euros which is really affordable.
Tip: From 5 till 8pm they run a happy hour where you get small glasses ( 100 ml) of beer for 1 euro and the Maß (1l) for 5€ -Bargain!
7pm Sluk ut de lamp @Spitzen Gebel
I find myself on the suggestion of local, Carolin Hinz, in what is the last remaining medieval townhouse of Bremen- Spitzen Gebel. It’s a small wee house with Gothic gables and easy to miss. The ‘Haake Beer’ sign outside betrays the fact that this place is now a pub. A pub with a nice cosy atmosphere , a few merry faced locals and tourists sipping on the excellent local Haake pils.
Given that I was still groaning under the weight of the Bremer Knipp, it was suggested I try the most famous drink in town-“Sluk ut de lamp”.
I had no idea at the time what I was getting into.
They pour the drink out of a lamp on the wall. What I hadn’t accounted for was how strong and venomous the stuff is. I probably had the face of someone whose been hit by a lorry judging by the raucous laughter of the locals who were there drinking. A funny but ultimately vile drinking experience, nevertheless one that is essential when visiting Bremen. I have to admit, in terms of a digestif was excellent and I had a pretty good nights sleep.
Another cold sunny day on the Schlachte…
I head out of the Aldstadt to the neighbourhood of Das Viertel. Once marked for demolition in 60’s to build a motorway, thanks to fierce opposition from locals, the project did not go ahead.
Today, it is the hippest, coolest neighbourhood of Bremen and still retains the grunge feeling of the 80’s.
My first port of call in Das Viertel is the outstanding Kunsthalle (Am Wall 207)
The museum houses an excellent collection of French and German paintings from the 19th and 20th century, including important works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and Paul Cézanne, along with major paintings by Lovis Corinth, Max Liebermann, Max Beckmann and Paula Modersohn-Becker.
The museum holds organizes an excellent programme of temporary exhibitions.
When I visited I was priveilged to check out the ‘The Line of Life’ exhibition. This exhibition was a recreation of the brilliant Hundertwasser’s attempt of the ‘The line of Hamburg’ in 1959 which is regarded as the birth hour of European performance art. Imitating the former attempt , for 50 hours they drew the line across the gallery in Kunsthalle to create a spiral, spectacular environment.
At the entrance don’t forget to check out this cool alternative take on the….musicians of Bremen
Cost: €8, €5 concessions for students with valid ID card
1pm Window shopping in Das Viertel
Das Viertel is packed with cool shops like the uber cool designer store ‘Kauf dich Glucklich’ ( shop till happy ) and ‘Die sachenmacher’ which stocks cool stuff from local Bremen artists like the recycled purse in picture
2pm Lunch. Coffee Corner, Ostertorsteinwag
For past 11 years, Coffee Corner (Ostertorsteinweg 1, 28203 Bremen ) this has been the place for bagels and good coffee in Bremen.
Comfy sofas upstairs, downstairs grab a window side stool & get a birds eye view of the action in Das Viertel.
They do great soups, salads and awesome bagels.
I enjoyed the Chicken Curry bagel. Free wifi is excellent.
Cost: 2.80 euros.
3pm Afternoon stroll around Das Viertel
I go for a further wonder through this beautiful neighbourhood.
Discover some cool street art
Soon find myself at the bank of Weser river , area known as the Osterdeich.
Here I discover Kultur-im-Bunker.
They organize concerts, book readings, poetry slam & all things cultural in this former World War 2 bunker. How cool is that?
Tucked away off the main drag of Das Viertel, Marianne’s (Berliner Strasse 22 ) is a great place for kaffee und kuchen. Expect lots of hipster nerdy cultural types clamouring for the limited table space here.
They do awesome chocolate tart ( in picture ) here and New York Cheesecakes. The other great thing is that they have significant range of vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free cakes and pies.
Cost: Chocolate tart and cappuchino: €5
6pm Early dinner at Angolino
Das Viertel has a plethora of great places to eat out and Angolino’s (Vor dem Steintor 11, 28203 Bremen) is a lovely cosy Italian trattoria that serves good Italian food at decent prices. I ate the excellent Spaghetti aglio olio e pepperoncino ( Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli flakes ) with a glass of refreshing San Pellengrino lemonade.
Cost: Spaghetti (€6.5 ), Drink – €2
I head back to the Aldstadt for a drink at a traditional tavern and one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany-the Ratskeller.
Here you can find the oldest wine barrel in Germany, dating from 1653 from Rudesheim
It’s very touristy and the beer is pricey (0.5l of the local Becks for €4.20) but the history of this place and ambience made the short visit worthwhile.
9pm One last look at Bremen
At night the market square is all lit-up and quiet, devoid of tourists. Perfect.
Top tip Long train trip ahead? Stock up for the perfect picnic lunch
If you are travelling solo, on a budget, I strongly recommend creating your own picnic lunch/dinner with some classic German food items from a local Aldi or Lidl supermarket. Especially if you’ve got a long train or bus journey ahead of you, you can’t beat this option. For my train journey from Bremen to Hannover, I got some of the local Bremen ‘Haake Beck’ beer, some tasty Rye Bread, cheese and salami I was carrying with me from breakfast at the hostel, bought some fruit and rounded it off with the best chocolate biscuits in the world- milk choc Leibniz biscuits and my favourite Ritter Sport ‘Knusperflakes’ ( Chocolate with cornflakes!)
Then just sit back on the train and enjoy the views!
Cost: 7 euros
Total cost of 48 Hours in Bremen
2 nights at the Jugendherberge Bremen, with breakfast €51.20
Bremer Knipp at the Schüttinger Gasthausbrauerei €9
Sluk ut de lamp @Spitzen Gebel €2
Chicken curry bagel at Coffee Corner €2.80
Chocolate tart and cappuccino at Marianne €5
Spaghetti + drink at Angelo’s €8.50
Beer at Ratskeller €4.20
Picnic on train €7
Thank you to the German National Tourism Office , their partners for the ‘Youth Hotspots’ campaign – Jugendherberge : The German Youth Hostelling Association and Deutsche Bahn for sponsoring my ‘German Wanderlust’ tour.
Also like to thank Carolin Hinz and her colleagues at the Bremen Tourism Board for their kind support.
I was touring Germany as part of an effort to highlight and discover the country’s emerging ‘Youth Hotspots.’
Please note: While my trip has been sponsored, the views and thoughts represented in this article are my own.